I began to describe their life cycles, social structures and hunting techniques when one of the students noticed something out of the ordinary. Three major scouts(adult females) appeared to be attacking an antlion larva in its conical pit-trap. Heads facing down, they dug furiously in the soft sand, searching for the ambusher. Then, another student noticed that there was a Matabele Ant sunken into the hole; up to her neck in quicksand. A very brave antlion larva had succeeded in attacking and subduing one of the powerful, warlike black ants. Now, her sisters were trying to rescue her.
Eventually two of the scouts gave up and continued on the trail of their sisters, but one, more persistent than the rest, continued the rescue attempt. She dug furiously, circling her sister as the sand flew from under her feet, trying to save her from the maxillae of the antlion. She failed. Eventually, reluctantly, she moved off, then returned for another attempt, then moved off again, leaving her hapless sister struggling feebly, her waving antennae the only sign of life.
On the return journey to their bivouac they would pass by this way once again. I knew that the bodies of their dead would be collected. Would they, possibly the three, pause in remembrance of their fallen comrade? Or is that pushing it a bit too far . . .?